Since we left Oregon 12 days ago, I’ve been reflecting on the lessons I’ve learned from the experience of leaving one ministry and starting another. I have three thoughts for you, and I’d love to hear what you think. In the comments, share with us the lessons you’ve learned through the transitions you’ve experienced in life.
- Don’t wait to say “thank you”: As we were preparing to leave Salem, I had a lot of “thank you’s” I needed to express. I crammed in as many as I could before our departure, I’ve sent a few more since we left and I know there are many that never were expressed. It made me wonder: Why did I wait until my departure to say these things? Why was it so obvious to me to express my appreciation, thanks and love as I left town, but not so obvious while I was in town? I want to be more thankful and more expressive of that thanks in the future. Waiting until another transition robs people of the joy they deserve and assumes I know the future! Goodbyes are a great time to reinforce what you’ve already been sharing. I was so blessed as we left Salem, because so much of what people shared with us, they had shared with us before -- it made their parting sentiments even more valuable. I want to be like that in my life.
- Get rid of stuff often: Now that we’ve experienced that process of reducing our lives to just 40 square feet of trailer space, I can’t wait to find ways to not fill up our house again! It’s not that stuff is evil -- it’s just that stuff can get so distracting. Big or small, stuff can really distract us from Overboard Living. Deciding to sell our house, while not buying a new one here in Michigan, was a really hard decision -- but the freedom has been amazing! We have donated more stuff to Goodwill, our church, our friends and to total strangers in the past three months, than we had in the16 years prior. It is awesome to give stuff to people who will benefit from it, and to know that you won’t ultimately miss it. It’s also amazing how little we actually need. I thought I’d miss some things that I haven’t thought twice about since we got rid of them (yes, I’m talking about my beloved G.I. Joe action figures!).
- People remember the small stuff: My friend Jeromy shared something at church, during a testimony time held on our last day. He mentioned a time when he was really struggling as a husband, and hadn’t been apart of church much. During that season, Traci and I had been meeting weekly with his wife and on one particular Sunday, he decided to start giving church another try. When he walked in the door, he commented how uncomfortable he was, and when he saw Traci, he was sure she’d snub him (due to his faulty perceptions about what our meetings with his wife were about). Instead, Traci walked across the foyer and gave him a hug, expressing her thankfulness that he was at church that day. Five years later -- Jeromy still remembers that simple act. Over the past several months, we’ve been bombarded with people’s memories of hugs, letters, emails, texts, meals, tears and silence (when we just sat and said nothing while they unloaded or cried or sat numb from some loss). When we give ourselves to share life with others, the small details make all the difference. It reminds me of Paul's words in Colossians 3:17: "And whatever you do, whether in word in or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father, through Him." That "everything" includes the small stuff!
What have you learned through your transitions? I’ve learned a lot through this last transition, and as a result I know want to:
- Say “Thank you” and “I love you” more often.
- Purge my garage more frequently.
- Take the time to do the small stuff -- it really matters!
Go ahead and take plunge -- life is better on the water!